Wednesday, May 25, 2016

America’s Raw Story
7th Post

Subjugated Americans
with their
Minuscule Liberty Quotients
Under the Screws of the Corpocracy

Liberty Quotient of the Subjugated

Self Power/Corpocracy Power

·                    autocracy
·                    bureaucracy
·                    corpocracy
·                    democracy
·                    kleptocracy
·                    mobocracy (yes, it’s a word)
·                    monocracy
·                    plutocracy
·                    technocracy
·                    theocracy
·                    timocracy

The word “corpocracy” hasn’t made it yet into the dictionary, unlike the other “cracies,” or into public conversations as far as I know.1 “Cracy” is derived from the Greek “kartia” for power. The corpocracy exemplifies regime power, the getting of more and more of it and the continuous abuse of it in serving its own interests at a terrible cost to public interests and the common good. Power, but a very different kind of power, is also a defining characteristic of “democracy.”

There is such an inherent conflict between these two “cracies” that they can’t co-exist in the same nation and they don’t coexist in America. In America the corpocracy rules with tyrannical-like power. The self-ruling democracy power of the people has been taken from the people.

The Devil’s Marriage

Where did the power of the people go?
To a marriage made in Hell did it flow.
Leaving democracy in the lurch,
Jilting Americans and much worse.

Not a Shotgun Wedding

The marriage was anything but a shotgun wedding. It was a wedding for the sake of mutual “badvantages” (advantages for all sorts of bad behavior, legal and illegal).  Both partners compromised (some critics might say “corrupted”) each other. Both got huge, unending dowries. Corporations (most but not all are U.S. corporations) get almost on a daily basis “power and profit gifts” in the form of favorable legislation, favorable regulations and deregulations, favorable judicial verdicts, welfare handouts, impunity from lawlessness, military help in global exploitation, and laissez-faire capitalism. And what do the politicians get? The Capital Hill bunch (aka “Corporate Hill”) gets career employment in plush offices. The oval office puppets get brief prestige and mostly posturing power. And the robed bench sitters for life get to rule in favor of the corporate interests that helped to get them appointed. The first dowry far overshadows the second but neither partner can afford a divorce. They will stick together through thick and thin. 

Self-Rule: Not in a Corpocracy

Self-rule is synonymous with democracy. It represents both a moral and a practical balance between the anarchy of no governance, or extreme individualism, on the one hand, and totalitarianism, or oppressive governance, on the other.  Self-rule by 99% can’t exist in a corpocracy.

Self-Rule and Our Life’s Equations

In a true democracy people in all walks and stations of life have self-rule or as much control as possible over their life equations. You, me, everyone has the same general equation. It may just be the most important non-mathematical equation anyone will ever see in their lifetime:

 Our Selves + Our Situations          =              Whether/How Much
                                                                          Health, Happiness,
                                                                             and Prosperity
                                                                 We Have or Don’t Have                                    

In a true democracy the outputs on the right side amount to an optimum level of general welfare for all Americans, not just the wealthiest ones.

In a corpocracy, the equation is much different. The corpocracy has considerable power and control over most Americans’ life’s equations and thus their general welfare. Here is what the equation looks like today for all but the wealthiest Americans:

Our Selves + The Corpocracy          =         Much, Much Less       
                                                              Health, Happiness, and Prosperity
                                                                                Most of Us                                                                                       

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and the “promotion of the general welfare” the American Constitution promised us are more than “just” declarations of the sanctity and importance of our life’s equations. It’s an affirmation of humanity and support for the general welfare in a civilized society.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

America’s Raw Story
(A New Title)
6th Post

Under the Socioscope
The Badvantages of Bush and Obama

“Badvantage” is my term for any situation or circumstance that gives an advantage to bad behavior. Any president of America probably has more badvantages than any other living human being. 

In the previous post we put Bush and Obama under the psychoscope to understand partly why they do what they do. In this post we complete the explanation of their behavior by putting them under the socioscope to find their badvantages. As I see it, there are at least eight of them.

Seductive Positions

History is replete with leaders seduced by the powerful positions they held. Power is readily available to be exploited and abused. The U.S. presidency is certainly a seductive position, but its power, as with all seductive positions, is usually moderated to some extent by the relative strength s and weaknesses of the other badvantages and any countervailing forces.

Organizational Size

Bigger organizations have more power available to the organization’s leaders to wield and usually with impunity. Needless to say to America’s taxpayers and to the rest of the world, the U.S. government is the biggest national government in the world, and there are numerous mega corporations.         

Tall Organizational Structure

Large organizations like governments and corporations are hierarchies with “pecking orders.” People at and near the top do the ordering and people below follow them. The hierarchy is a perfect place to order wrongdoing to be done and then to blame it on people at the lower levels. 

Organizational and Social Culture

Culture, whether that of a government agency, a corporation, or that of a society is like an autobiography that says, “This is our history, who we are, what we believe, what we value, and how we operate.” Any U.S. president, like most people whether plebeians or potentates, operates within both an organizational and social culture and is influenced by it to varying degrees in varying situations.

As an illustration let’s consider first President Obama’s organizational culture and zero in on its most potent element, namely, his “shadow government” made up primarily of the CIA, the NSA, and the military.  His shadow government influences, if not sometimes predetermines his decisions if we can believe the authenticity of reports from various sources, a few of which I will cite here.

The reason why Obama blocked criminal persecutions of officials in the previous administration according to various sources is that he was worried that “the CIA, NSA and military would revolt” and he reminded his confidants of “what had happened to Martin Luther King,” an implicit allusion to the alleged  assassination arranged by the CIA. [18] If Obama did not also mention the assassination of President Kennedy under similar circumstances it was probably too discomforting for him to have done so.

From a few other sources have come reports that also seem to cast doubt on Obama’s unilateral authority. We learn, for instance, that   he told the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was whining to him about the CIA’s getting a disproportionate share of the war pie that “The CIA gets what it wants.” [19] And we hear indirectly from Senator Ron Wyden, member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and who reportedly has had “‘several spirited discussions’ with Obama,” that “It really seems like General Clapper, the intelligence leadership, and the lawyers drive this in terms of how decisions get made at the White House.” [20]

Not being privy to either Obama’s mind or to his inner circle, what are we to make of such reports?  Are Obama, and were his predecessors, puppets or puppeteers? What I make of it is simply that President Obama, just like the rest of us, does not live in a vacuum. He is not the sole reason why he does what he does.

Another part of Obama’s organizational culture of course is the political one in the form of the U.S. Congress. It is dominated by the party twins, Democrats and Republicans. Any U.S. president can count on any Congress being almost to a person war and spy hawks. If there were any doubts about these hawks and their dependence on the war and spy industries Chapters 4 and 5 ought to dispel them.  

Now let’s turn for a moment to Obama’s much larger context, the culture of the society in which he lives. It is perfectly suited for his position and its shadowy government for it is a sociopathic culture that not only accepts but expects endless warring and spying. [21] This second culture is a creature of the first but they feed off each other.

Upside- Down Incentives

U.S. presidents and corporate CEOs are addicted to them. An upside down incentive, as you can probably guess, is one that rewards bad behavior and/or punishes good behavior. The most egregious upside down incentive is the case of U.S. warriors-in-chief and their regimes never having to worry about being prosecuted as war criminals by the International Criminal Court to which the U.S. deliberately did not join. International war criminals these people are, stupid they are not.Another potent upside down incentive is provided by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that corporations (including those in the war and spy industries)  are persons and thus allowed to finance the campaigns of politicians, rendering them mouthpieces for their corporate patrons. 

Best or Worst of Times

The best of times, which stokes greed, tends to bring out the worst in human nature just as the worst of times, which stokes need, tends to do the same. Fortune 500 companies, for instance, tend to get into legal trouble more often when times are good. In the case of U.S. presidents, however, the worst of times is when they get more militaristic. The difference is that an American regime in its militaristic imperialism creates its own worst of times by turning potential friends into enemies. Nothing boosts its profits and power and distracts the home folks from domestic plight more than having an enemy or two or three. Making sure America has enemies is a very potent badvantage for a U.S. president. Think about it for a moment. The U.S. is thousands of miles across water and land from her enemies that wouldn’t be America’s enemies if America stayed at home. But when has her imperialistic regimes ever stayed at home?

Global Enticements

Globalization is the contemporary euphemism for imperialism or “global gobbling.”The globe is one giant opportunity for market expansion, resource exploitation and political manipulation by the more powerful nations, which helps explain why U.S. regimes try to be the most powerful of all. The prospect of installing or protecting dictatorships to protect U.S. corporate investments on foreign soil in the pretext of spreading and defending freedom is just too much of a temptation for CEOs and U.S. presidents alike to resist.

One of the most alluring global plumbs up for gobbling has always been oil. The engines of America’s corpocracy run on oil. That dependency goes a long way toward explaining American imperialism. Eventually there will be a worldwide desperate need for water that will replace oil.  

The Powerful Corpocracy and Its Allies

America’s corpocracy, the “Devil’s Marriage” between big government and big business, along with the duo’s allies are a gigantic, endless badvantage for all people in and associated with the corpocracy and its corporate driven political and economic systems, not just with the corpocracy’s warring and spying component. [22] They all feed off one another at the expense of the public. Large corporations, including those in the defense and intelligence industries expect and get countless favors and the subservient government’s politicians provide them in exchange for public office. It is truly a Devil’s Marriage.

There you have it, eight badvantages, and there’s absolutely no doubt that every one of them has tempted or pressured not only Presidents Bush and Obama but also their predecessors. The badvantages help explain and influence but do not exonerate their negative leadership (i.e., bad behavior and bad results for the common people). Leaders, like everyone else, despite the badvantages, are responsible for their own behavior and its consequences; that they never are held accountable can be blamed on the badvantages.

Closing Remarks and a Confession

Given their PMUs and GMUs revealed under the psychoscope of the previous post PLUS their socioscope is it any wonder that Bush and Obama do what they do? Understanding why, however, obviously should not excuse them (a subject for a future post).

Let’s consider for a moment some of my own past in light of a psychoscope and socioscope. Why did I accept a graduate school research position funded by an Air Force Grant? Why did I did I teach an introductory psychology course at an Air Force base? Why did I work for a year for a defense contractor right after graduate school? Why did I protest the Vietnam War silently while working for the US government?

The answers can be found through my own psychoscope and sociscope of my PAST for which I am now trying to make amends.

18. Swanson, D. Mark Udall and the Unspeakable. Dissident Voice, November 22, 2014.
19.  Coll, S. Remote Control: Our Drone Delusion. The New Yorker, May 6, 2003, 77.

20. Lizza, R. State of Deception: Why Won’t the President Rein in the Intelligence Community? The New Yorker, December 16, 2013, 48-61, 50.21. Derber, C. Sociopathic Society: A People's Sociology of the United States. Paradigm Publishers, 2013.  See also, Lewis, AR. The American Culture of War: A History of US Military Force from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom. Routledge, 2012.

21. Derber, C. Sociopathic Society: A People's Sociology of the United States. Paradigm Publishers, 2013.  See also, Lewis, AR. The American Culture of War: A History of US Military Force from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom. Routledge, 2012.

22. Brumback, G.B. The Devil’s Marriage: The Devil’s Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch, Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2011.

Please post your comments, good or bad.

Friday, May 20, 2016

America’s RAW Deal
5th Post

Under the Psychoscope
Two of History’s Bloodiest War Lords
Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama

Snapshot: What They Have Done

·                 Authorized secret wars in nearly 3/4th of the planet
·                 Destroyed cities and villages
·                 Sent millions to their graves
·                 Bombed weddings and funeral
·                 Replaced popular leaders with dictators as US pawns
·                 Created countless enemies and potential terrorists
·                 Squandered trillions for war instead of building a new America


People, including presidents, do what they do because of their PMU (psychological makeup), GMU (genetic and gender makeup) and also because of the situations or circumstances they create and/or face. [1]

In this psychoscope the two president’s PMUs and GMUs will be examined for an explanation of their destructive and deadly behavior. In the next post the two presidents' circumstances will be examined.

What the Psychoscope Shows Us

Their DNA

Some research suggests that a particular gene is more likely to be found among leaders than followers. [2] Other research suggests that a person’s genetic makeup may to some extent predispose the person to a life of crime. [3] “Putting two and two together,” is it much of a stretch to wonder if their genes have at least a minor influence on their committing international war crimes?

Their Gender

Do you know of any female U.S. president? Wars throughout history have been started and fought by males with very few exceptions (Cleopatra and Margaret Thatcher, for example). While testosterone may play a tiny role in a male leader’s aggression, we live in a male dominated society, which means among other things that males are expected to dominate and to be aggressive when confronted with conflicts.

Their Background

A person’s background is the person’s history, and you know the old saying, “history is prologue to the future.” There’s a grain or more of truth to it, and more so when some of the person’s behavior is habitual since a habit (e.g., the war and spy habit) is the past repeated, is it not? A person’s background tells us how that person’s characteristics have evolved and what role they played in the person’s lifetime of responses to a lifetime of situations.

Bush was born with a silver spoon in his mouth so to speak and a member of a dynasty with a sense of entitlement that sometimes surfaced on the wrong side of the law and with impunity. [4] His father, George Walker Bush, before becoming the first U.S. president in the Bush family had been a director of the CIA.

Obama’s parents were allegedly on the CIA payroll and that agency reportedly “financed his college education and gave him his first job afterwards.” [5] Is he indebted to the CIA? Is he afraid of the CIA given its history of assassinations? I will return to the matter of the influence the “shadow government” (i.e., CIA and NSA) allegedly has on whoever sits in the Oval Office in the next post.                                                                             

Their Personalities

Let’s turn now to their personalities and raise some questions about whether these socially undesirable personality traits; greed/ambition, morally unprincipled, narcissism and close mindedness are associated with their kind of leadership behavior. 


We know they are ambitious. Anyone is who climbs up to the Oval Office.

Morally Unprincipled?

Anyone who starts a war against another nation on a pretext or who orders drone strikes is morally unprincipled and will do whatever is necessary to achieve desired ends.  Bush, a born-again Christian would naturally disagree. So would Obama. Let’s hear what the latter himself has said about his own moral character: “---I think I’m pretty good at keeping my moral compass while recognizing that I am a product of original sin.” [6] The subordinating clause of that statement is a perfect example of a moral rationalization as in, “well, we all sin in our own ways.”  And again in his own words:  “One of the things that I’ve learned to appreciate more as President is you are essentially a relay swimmer in a river full of rapids, and that river is history.” [7] In other words, you can blame what he’s doing on history. And he’s partly right.

To the extent that any war/spy commander in chief has any hint of morality it is compartmentalized, a form of moral rationalization and a habit typical of most humans. Certain mental compartments are reserved for scruples and others for behavior ranging from the less scrupulous to evil. I will give you one example from Obama’s repertoire of behavior. A few days after he had eulogized Dr. Martin Luther King, the antiwar activist when alive, the president announced he would be doing some more bombing. [8]

Now, we can interpret that seeming contradiction in two ways. Either his eulogy was nothing other than posturing, which is second nature to politicians, or he was pulling the eulogy out of a moral compartment and deciding from a different compartment to go bombing again. Either way, he was at worst exhibiting unprincipled morality and at best conditional morality.


What national leader isn’t narcissistic? An extreme form of narcissism is a sense of grandiosity, as President Obama seems to display in this remark; “Here’s my bottom line, America must always lead on the stage. If we don’t, no one else will.” [9]Another extreme form is a lack of empathy.  Have you ever seen the two of them express empathy or remorse over innocent people killed by their military decisions? Sometime after I wrote that last sentence I spotted an article in the New Yorker quoting Obama in a speech to the National Defense University saying about civilian deaths from drones that such incidents are “heartbreaking tragedies” that would be haunting memories for “as long as we live.” [10] I think his expressed remorse was mostly posturing rather than being deeply felt especially since he went on to defend the use of drones.

Hubris is another element of this personality trait. It was displayed by President Bush standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier and boasting “mission accomplished;” and in this boastful remark; “The interesting thing about being president is that you don’t feel like [you] owe anybody an explanation. [11]


It would not be unusual if Bush and Obama were psychopathic. Apparently it is “normal” if we can believe the findings from a study that relied on some 100 historical experts’ analyses of data on all U.S. presidents. The researchers say they found this personality trait in every U.S. president. [12] Noted psychoanalyst Dr. Justin Frank seems to have found it also when analyzing the backgrounds and behavior of Bush and Obama. [13]


Ron Suskind was the senior national-affairs reporter for The Wall Street Journal from 1993 to 2000 and the author of a book and articles about Bush. Mr. Suskind writes that when asked by his top deputies to explain his decisions “the president would say that he relied on his ‘gut’ or his ‘instinct’ to guide the ship of state, and then he ‘prayed over it.’” [14] Anyone believing their decisions is guided by the supernatural are not likely to open their mind to alternative decisions.

As for President Obama, he once told a reporter; “And every morning and every night I’m taking measure of my actions against the options and possibilities available to me---.” [15] Now that statement suggests he’s open-minded, but he certainly has been close minded about ending the drone strikes and reaching out to the world with an olive branch.

Close-mindedness is the personality trait that seems to be the most correlated with less intelligence. The more close-minded a person is, the more to suspect that person is not as intelligent as an open-minded person. That may be why the policy decisions and actions of Bush and Obama have seemed so mindless. Habits, after all, don’t require any superior intelligence or critical thinking.


Firmly held beliefs are like ideologies that have hardened into certainties. Nowhere is that more pronounced than in the case of religious beliefs, where believing becomes seeing, not the other way around. More down to earth, a pronounced belief of every American president is that of manifest destiny, the belief, no, the certainty that America is destined to be the leader of the world. The neoconservatives and neoliberals of today that bend the ears of our presidents are living examples of this ideology in action. The invasion of Iraq, for example, was planned long before 9/11 by influential neoconservatives with connections to the White House. [16]Another pronounced belief, so intuitive and counter intuitive at the same time, is the conviction, or maybe a rationalization if the belief is a pretense, that certain wars, America’s wars most certainly, are always “just and necessary.” Recall my argument in an earlier post blasting that belief to smithereens.

Selfish Purpose?

Absolutely. As with Bush and all previous U.S. presidents, Obama is acting for his own self-interests, not for the interests of the American people, even though he will most certainly disagree and would, I’m sure, argue he is acting in the best interests of America. If that is true, his actions have certainly failed in any case.

Purpose, along with intentions and expectations, are an extremely strong influence on human behavior. They help motivate and guide it.

Ordinary, simple habits don’t need an explicit purpose. Take the case of the cigarette smoker ((but don’t take him/her in the same room). That habit basically drives itself. The need for and sight of a cigarette is all that is needed to keep the habit alive. The warring and spying habits, by virtue of their enormity of scale, need self and publicly proclaimed purposes.     

Why Do Americans Elect Such People?

The answer, I think, is two-fold. First, American voters have little say in the selection and election of their presidents.  The Constitution’s specification of the dysfunctional Electoral College, the government’s controlled Federal Election Commission, and corporate campaign financing guarantee that the “twin” parties’ candidates will dominate the ballots. Second, American education is one of an addicted regime’s most reliable “habit helpers.” It is never in any regime’s advantage to have most if not all citizens educated to think for themselves. If they did there would be an entirely different and better America.  Psychologist David Dunning and sociologist Mato Nagel have theorized and showed through a computer simulated election that incompetent people can’t judge leadership qualities. [17] That finding is not accidental. America’s regimes plan it that way.


1. I first conceived of the idea of the human equation in my book on organizational performance:
Tall Performance from Short Organizations through We/Me Power. 1st Books Library,  2002.
2. Prigg, M. The Secret to being a Great Leader? It's in your Genes, Researchers Say. DailyMallJanuary15,2013.
3. Cohen, P. Genetic Basis for Crime: A New Look. The New York Times, June 19, 2011.4.  4. Parry, R. Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. The Media Consortium, 2004.
5. Ross, S. Obama’s Ties to CIA May Explain His Totalitarian Views. Veterans Today, May 3, 2013.
6. Remnick, D, Going the Distance: On and Off the Road with Barack Obama. The New Yorker, January 27, 2014, 41-61, 61.
7. Ibid., 61.
8. Sirota, D. What Happened to the Anti-War Movement? Nation of Change, September 6, 2013.

9. Blum, W. What Would a Psychiatrist Call This? Delusions of Grandeur? The Anti-Empire Report #130. Dissident Voice, July 12, 2014.

10. Coll, S. The Unblinkable Stare. The New Yorker, November 24, 2014, 98-109.

11. Nader, R. A Letter to George Bush. Dissident Voice, January 1, 2014.
12. Howard, J. Psychopathic Personality Traits Linked With U.S. Presidential Success, Psychologists Suggest. The Huffington Post, September 13, 2012.
13. Frank, J. Bush on the Couch. Harper Perennial, 2005. Obama on the Couch. Free Press, 2012.
14. Suskind, R. Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush. The New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004; and, Suskind, R. The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill. Simon & Schuster, 2004.
15. Remnick. Op. Cit., 61.
16. There are many accounts of how 9/11 was a golden opportunity for Bush and gang, including his neoconservative tutors to carry out a plan years in the making to invade Iraq. See, e.g., Battle, J. The Iraq War-Part I:  The U.S. Prepares for Conflict, The National Security Archive, 2001; Beversdorf, T. The Most Essential Lesson of History That No One Wants to Admit.  First Rebuttal, December 7, 2014; and Weber, M. Iraq: A War For Israel. Institute for Historical Review, March, 2008.

17. Wolchover, N. People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish, Scientists Say. OpEdNews, February 28, 2012.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

America’s RAW Deal
4th Post

Not a Raw Deal for Some

Over 3 million DOD employees
Nearly 150,000 work for spy agencies
Nearly 3 million in the uniformed services
1.4 million work for the defense & aerospace industry
150,000 work for the spy industry
Countless politicians at all levels of government
Businesses in locales with military bases and contractors

Any way you slice it, and recognizing that the above numbers are very rough and partly speculative because our government is so secretive about its warring and spying, it is a good deal for millions of Americans, excluding, of course, those who are wounded or killed while in harm’s way.

A Look Inside Our Government’s Good Deal for Some

How Our Government is Organized
Executive Branch: The War Bureaucracy

Office of the President
  The President
  Chief Counter Terrorism Advisor
  National Security Advisor and Staff
  Office of Digital Strategy
  Office of Legal Counsel
  Office of Legislative Affairs
  Office of National Drug Control Policy
  Office of Science and Technology Policy
  Office of the White House Counsel
  President's Intelligence Advisory Board and Intelligence Oversight Board
Department of Defense
     Defense Policy Board
     Defense Agencies
          Defense Advanced Research Project  
          Defense Intelligence Agency
          Defense Security Service
          Defense Threat Reduction Agency  
          Missile Defense Agency
          National Counterterrorism Center            
          National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
          National Reconnaissance Office
          National Security Agency
          Plus Many More         
      Field Activity Bureaucracy
           Defense Media Alert
           Plus More
      Joint Chiefs of Staff
           Uniformed Branches
                Army + More
                Unified Combatant Commands
                     National Defense University
                     Special Operations Command
                     Plus More

Executive Branch: The Spy Bureaucracy

Independent agencies
    Central Intelligence Agency
United States Department of Defense
    Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency
    Army Military Intelligence
    Defense Intelligence Agency
    Marine Corps Intelligence Activity
    Military Intelligence Board
    National Security Agency
    National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
    National Reconnaissance Office
    Office of Intelligence and Analysis
    Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence
    Office of Naval Intelligence
United States Department of Energy
   Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence
United States Department of Homeland Security
    Office of Intelligence and Analysis
    Coast Guard Intelligence
United States Department of Justice
    Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Branch
    Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of National Security Intelligence
United States Department of State
    Bureau of Intelligence and Research
United States Department of the Treasury
    Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence

Legislative Branch

Aka: Bureaucracy of Checks and Imbalances Or The Lost and Fund Departments;
“Capital” Hill for the War and Spy Business; and Enriching the War & Spy Business: Impoverishing the Taxpayer

Senate Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Senate Committee on Armed Services (six subcommittees) Senate Committee on the Budget Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (six relevant subcommittees) Senate Subcommittee on Energy Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Senate Committee on Finance (two relevant subcommittees) Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (seven subcommittees) Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs (five subcommittees) Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee 

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (three subcommittees) House Subcommittee on Homeland Security Appropriations House Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations House Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Appropriations House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations House Committee on Armed Services (nine subcommittees) House Committee on Budget House Committee on Energy and   Commerce (three relevant subcommittees) House Committee on Foreign Affairs (seven subcommittees) House Committee on Homeland Security (six subcommittees) House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (five subcommittees) Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation House Subcommittee on Small Business Contracting and the Workforce House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (two relevant subcommittees) House Committee on Veterans' Affairs (four subcommittees) House Committee on Ways and Means (oversight committee)

George Washington fought the American Revolution without any of them. Today, President Obama delegates that “work” to the subordinate chiefs of too many offices and agencies to count. They are listed in Appendix C. It may not be a complete list. Some offices and/or agencies may be hidden from public view, part of an invisible government so to speak.

Although the war and spy agencies are listed separately they overlap in their work. Notice on the list for instance that the military intelligence components dominate the spy bureaucracy. Author and journal editor Clay Risen noted in 2009 that “Military snooping on civilians, which escalated in the turbulent 60’s, never entirely went away and is back again.”[5] Well, Mr. Risen, when you thought it was partly gone I’d say it probably had partly gone underground for a while before resurfacing.

Knowing how organizations really are versus how they should be organized and run is one of my specialties. But it doesn’t take any specialty to see the obvious. The above list depicts an organizational structure of the worst kind, the classic hierarchical and bloated bureaucracy, which is not atypical of government or corporations.

The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are show cases for bureaucracy. DHS, a hodgepodge collection of 23 formerly separate agencies with a budget of around $40 billion and 240,00 employees is a testimony to how fast government, once it seizes on an opportunity, in this case the 9/11 catastrophe, can build a monumental house of cards. In no time flat it has become the third largest federal bureaucracy, one regarded as “being without direction” and ineffective to say the least. The way it mishandled its response to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of parts of New Orleans is perhaps to date the agency’s most well-known piece of ineptitude. 

If all of the people involved in one way or another with America’s warring and spying were moved to a new city out in the desert it would instantly become the fourth largest city in the U.S., which would make it easier for the rest of America to gather up enough nerve to close it down.

How Our Government Works to Make War and Spy

Getting and Staying Elected

To get elected and reelected to Congress is a very costly pursuit, and the candidates with the most money invariably win. So campaign financing is the key to the office. That is hardly a secret (although the givers and takers would like to keep it a secret).

Politicians campaign for office by tacitly promising once in office to favor wealthy self-interest groups that richly finance their campaigns. Does the thought of “bribery” enter your mind? If you follow the money trail as the authors of “The People’s Business” have, you will see, they say, that a “pattern of influence will inevitably emerge” when major votes on issues affecting particular industries are compared to the campaign money and follow-up lobbying by those industries.

How could this pattern not emerge? Would any sane person think corporations finance campaigns as a way to strengthen democracy and not themselves? If there were no issues, no huge profits, and no political careers at stake, you can take money to the bank there would be much less money for corporations and their lobbyists and much less job security for politicians. An indirect benefit to corporations incidentally, is that donations to politicians, particularly to the political careerists (and who in Congress isn’t?) buoy share price by giving comfort and assurance to shareholders of politically favored corporations.

Mike Masnick, an editor and entrepreneur, has written about just how much it “cost to win election to Congress” in the 2012 cycle. “Both major political parties,” he wrote, “have set up phone banks across the street from the Capitol (because it's seen as demeaning to do the calls directly from your Congressional office), and members of the House and the Senate spend a ridiculous amount of time there” hustling money for their re-election campaign. One U.S. Senator calls it “dialing for dollars,” and “Nothing,” he says, “dominates the life of a senator more than raising money.”

According to Mr. Masnick, House members hustled on the average $1,689,580 each and Senators on the average $10,476,451 each I didn’t do the math from those figures because I simply learned elsewhere that for the 2012 election cycle campaign contributions from all industries to candidates for Congress and the White House totaled about $6.2 billion. A sizeable portion of the money paid for expensive advertising costs charged by the corporatized TV media that freely and very profitably uses airwaves that should be publicly owned and operated. 

In the same 2012 election cycle the “defense” industry spent a total of about $27 million on campaign financing. It is a relatively small amount compared to the other industries’ contributions, but the reason is simple. The other industries don’t have as many other ways (discussed in the next chapter) to capture politicians. Nevertheless, the politicians know they can’t take the war and spy industries completely for granted and so they are constantly holding fundraising events. Moreover, over time the contributions continue to mount, with nearly $200 million having been spent since 1990.

Being the secretive spy industry that it is makes it next to impossible to find out how much money that industry has spent on campaign contributions on any given election cycle. At a minimum the amount would start at $9.7 million. That’s how much of a slush fund Senator Diane Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee got for the 2012 election cycle. That’s a hefty contribution, but totally understandable because of her influential position. She’s certainly not the exception, though. One reason members of Congress salivate over getting an influential committee assignment is because of that sluice fund.

To her total would need to be added the contributions to other key members of Congress. One of them, Mike Rogers, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, received over $60 thousand in contributions for the same election cycle. This is the person who said on television; "You can't have your privacy violated if you don't know about it." Mind you, he’s the House Chair of Spying! Oh, I almost forgot. Among the other members are Mo, Dutch, Buck, and Bill reminiscent of the Marx Brothers. No, seriously, I’m not kidding.

Any doubts about what the spy business gets in return for its campaign finance spending ought to be erased by just this one fact: “Lawmakers who upheld NSA phone spying received double the defense industry cash.” That fact’s description happens to be the title of an article.
And so the true tale of money in politics goes on and on. Follow the money and you will find a politician in office or wanting to get there. I imagine you get the point and don’t need any more data because I’m worn out finding what I did find.

Legislating to Make War and Spy

Congress does everything in its power and connives in secrecy to legislate U.S. warring and spying so as to make it legal (White House and agency lawyers can be counted on to pitch in and help in misinterpreting pesky laws that somehow got passed). 

This is where the true story of the “touts” comes in. Touts are what Winston Churchill called lobbyists. When any of them comes through a Capitol Hill door the public’s interest in getting legislation and budget allocations for the common good gets thrown out the window.

There are so many touts (over 11,000) that when they attend public hearings they pay “line sitters” who are law school students, bicycle messengers, even the homeless, to camp out overnight to get tickets in the Chamber’s galleries. Seems kind of silly and unnecessary to me. The hearings are just for show. By the time an issue of real significance gets a public hearing, the touts behind the scenes have already ghost written legislative drafts and their pawns are committed to them.

Lobbying is a follow up to the tacit bribery on the campaign trail. The follow up doesn’t come cheaply, but it is money smartly spent by the industry and its touts.  Would you believe, for instance, that the return on investment (ROI) in lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry has been estimated at a mindboggling 77,500% on just one issue, barring the government from bargaining for cheaper drug prices through Medicare? I have never ever seen reported such a huge percentage on anything else, let alone on industrial investments. I could find no comparable data for the war and spy industries but we can be sure their ROI is nothing to sneeze at or they wouldn’t be spending the money on lobbying. Witness the aforementioned case of lawmakers protecting NSA. 

In recent years over $3 billion has been spent annually by lobbyists swarming the halls and offices of Capitol Hill. Those lobbyists obviously aren’t there on behalf of what the public needs from “public servants.” They are there to keep and expand their clients’ profits and to maximize their ROI’s on lobbying by doing three things: writing draft legislation favoring their industries; making sure Congress funds warring and spying and protects those funds in times of “cutbacks,” and telling the war and spy agencies what to buy.

The six industries most reckless with life (the war industry, the spy industry, the agribusiness industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the energy industry, and the firearms industry) spent almost half of the lobbying expenses of all 20 industries combined in 2012. The closest I could come to a figure on lobbying expenses of the warring and spying industries for the year 2013 was over $57.7 million for the “defense aerospace industry.”That figure surely leaves out some of the lobbying expenses by the spying industry.

Funding Wars and Spying

For the year 2013 the habits’ budget was $1.3 trillion, over one-half the entire discretionary budget for the entire U.S. government. And if my calculations are correct, the habits’ budget is 67 times greater than the combined budgets of all 50 states. Does that prove that the anti-federalists were right about opposing a strong central government during the debate over writing the U.S. Constitution? I think all of us who are opposed to America’s warring and spying would think the proof is in the war and spy pudding. I can’t imagine the 50 states and their citizens would have ever agreed to pool their money and people to create enemies around the world. 

That is the short and long woeful story of 535 members of Congress throwing money left and right to sustain the war and spy addictions with eyes, ears, and conscience closed to the real needs of America.

“Overseeing” the Executive’s Role

The war and spy business spends a lot of money keeping their kind of people in influential legislative positions, muzzled and blindfolded except to the industrial benefactors. And their kind of people, some of whom also invest their own money in spying and warring contractors, are not about to tell the executive branch to crack down on both branches’ benefactors. It’s all a bribe, take, and don’t-rock-the-boat society.


America’s war and spy annual budget is not only second to none in the world, it is eight to none. That is, the U.S. budget is larger than the next eight countries’ combined budgets.  With an annual budget of over one-half trillion dollars, a natural question to ask is how on earth does the DOD keep track of its incoming and outgoing money? There must be millions of dollars falling through the cracks every day. 

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the activist organization, Code Pink, tells us in one of her articles that former Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates once complained that “it was nearly impossible to get accurate information and answers to basic questions, such as "How much money did you spend?" and "How many people do you have?" I personally think it was a hollow complaint. He knew very well that DOD can ignore with impunity the legal requirement to audit itself. Who’s going to hold DOD accountable? Certainly not the warrior/spy-in-chief or any other federal agency and certainly not Congress or the Supreme Court.

Buying from Contractors

Uncle Sam is the Sugar Daddy for the thousands of weapons makers and all other makers and vendors in the warring and spying business. Stories about Sugar Daddy’s profligacy, waste and inefficiency are legendary. A chief DOD buyer, officially known as the “Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics,” once lamented that “We tend to retry things every 10 years or so because we don’t remember what happened the last time they were tried. That is because we don’t have any data. It takes data and in-depth analysis to understand what really works.”

In other words, DOD doesn’t seem to know, or perhaps even to care, about what works and doesn’t work in its bottomless inventory of weapons and all of its other overflowing material goods (read “material bads” ).

The Forgotten Soldiers

One of my heart-felt convictions is reflected in this personal homily: “Mourn wars’ victims, scorn the war lords.” Inexcusably, among the millions of victims are America’s forgotten soldiers and castoffs, paid lip service at ceremonies but essentially left to tend for themselves despite the mission and partly because of the bureaucracy of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the shameful Congress that penny pinches just that one piece of the gargantuan military budget.

Remember the heart breaking story of Army vet William Busbeer in an earlier post? His story is one of legions. A veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes. For every service member who dies in battle, 25 return and die by their own hands.

Then there are the thousands of vets who struggle with “PTS” daily and somehow manage to get to the next day. There are thousands of vets with estranged or lost personal relationships. There are thousands of vets who are homeless.

William Boardman, five-term elected sitting judge and distinguished author, tells about a group of veterans going to the VA headquarters “to talk to officials there about veteran suicides, veteran homelessness, veteran joblessness, and other veteran struggles. No one from the department would talk to them.”

Shameless, shameless, shameless VA! I’m sure you have your side of the story, and part of it would probably be that you are woefully understaffed because Congress starves you of funds. So shame on Congress, too!

Let’s Not Forget SCOTUS

Never have I urged impeachment of Supreme Court justices.I do so now, for the sake of ending the Supreme Court's corporate-judicial dictatorship that is not accountableunder our system of checks and balance in any other way. ---Ralph Nader

The Supreme Court of the United States is the nation’s so-called “court of last resort.” That means it can make dreadful mistakes that millions of people affected adversely by it must live with unless SCOTUS later reverses itself. And the “robed injustices” have indeed made dreadful mistakes over the years that have impaired and enraged one group or another of our society.  

Cases involving America’s warring and spying seldom rise to be heard by SCOTUS. The biased and compromised court rules in their favor of warring and spying when cases do arise. For instance, SCOTUS supports U.S. wars; doesn't like the CIA being embarrassed; and supports military exercises over protection of marine species.

The Make-Believe Courts

It seems nothing legal can break the two habits of warring and spying while everything illegal sustain them. The government devilishly created two systems of “make-believe courts” to rubberstamp illegal warring and spying activities and to detain and punish military whistleblowers and suspected terrorists. One is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that rubberstamps requests from the spy agencies to do illegal spying. The other is the U.S. system of military tribunals and courts. It is a military tribunal that detains people at the Guantanamo encampment and allows them to be inhumanely treated, including that of torture. It was a military court that rendered such a harsh verdict on and sentencing of the whistleblower Bradley/Chelsea Manning.

The Chariot before the Horse
How the Two Industries Dictate to Uncle Sam

Let's count the ways: five. The two overlapping industries, not the American people at large, tell their government what its annual war/security budget should be, what its war/security purchases should be, for what purposes, and how much they should cost, and what minimal legislation and oversight would be acceptable. These industries exercise this stranglehold in several ways. Some of them we have already mentioned.

1. The Two Industries Get their Pawns and Patrons Elected

The industries donate millions of dollars in campaign contributions. The main focus is always to ensure that members of Congressional committees important to these two industries get reelected.

2. The Two Industries Strategically Locate their Facilities

The industries’ lifelines and profit bonanzas come from contracts awarded by influential and courted members of Congress. Locating facilities in their Congressional districts and States helps ensure that contracts will be steered to them. Few things make a member of Congress more anxious than the prospect of a facility moving out or a member more pleased than a facility moving in. If I’m not mistaken there are one or more military and/or spy contractor facilities in every state of the union.  I call it the “spread your employment security blanket.”

3. The Two Industries Swarm Capitol Hill with their Touts

In one year alone millions of dollars were spent to send about 1,000 touts up Capitol Hill to cash in on all those campaign financing bribes from the sector by telling their elected officials to keep boosting the federal budget for the sector, what and how to legislate and regulate the sector’s business, and to peddle its products and supplies. Trade associations are clusters of touts concentrating on a particular kind of war/security business and thus represent not one but all of the corporations in that business. These associations include the Aerospace Industries Association, Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, Intelligence and National Security Alliance, International National Defense Industrial Association (INSA), and the Submarine Industrial Base Council.

By the way, want to know a funny story about INSA? Two days after publishing a paper on cyber security the top spy trade association discovered its website was hacked. [33] I imagine it’s embarrassing, not funny to INSA.

4. The Two Industries’ Representatives Come and Go Through the Revolving Door

Now you see them here. Now you see them there. Who are they and where are they coming and going? They don’t stay put like the career bureaucrats do. They are the self-serving shufflers back and forth through the so-called, perfectly named “revolving door.” The war and spy agencies and contractors are no different from the rest of the shufflers throughout America’s corpocracy.

There are actually three sets of revolving doors. One is for industry executives and lobbyists who go through to appointments in key government posts to ensure industry interests aren’t denied by the American people. There’s the government-to-industry door through which public officials, having gotten experience and valuable contacts from the inside in keeping public interests at bay, go to the industry and parlay their experience and contacts into furthering industry interests in exchanges, usually private, with the government.  And finally, there’s the government-to-lobbyist door through which former legislators, their staffs, and executive-branch officials pass on the way to lucrative positions in lobbying firms to lobby their former colleagues.

5. The Two Industries Give Politicians Junket Trips and Other Goodies

Congressional members vital to the two industries are plied with junkets to sunny places in the winter, honored with awards, and in other ways to cater to their egos, palates and pleasures. For example, the Aerospace Industries Association in 2011 handed one of its top awards, the Wings of Liberty, to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), one of the co-chairmen of the special deficit-cutting committee. The award was given to her, not coincidentally, “on the same day the congressional super committee held its first public business meeting,” presumably to influence her vote on any budget cut that would hurt that Association’s industrial interests.

A Marriage Made in Hell
A True Story of Drone Lovers

This true story about a drone trade show illustrates quite well I think the flow of money and favors between government and industry.

If the two were not tied together at the groin and all parts above and below, you would expect the show to be held at a private facility, like say, a big arena rented by the “Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). But this is a true story, not fiction.

The event, publicly masked as a “science fair,” was held in the large foyer of the Rayburn House Office building adjacent to Capitol Hill. The host was the U.S. House Unmanned Systems Caucus (USUMSC), a bunch of politicians who care more about robots than people, except of course, themselves and their kind of people. I’m not sure which name came first, but I would guess that AUVSI did and then convinced “the industry's man on Capitol Hill” ---to start an Unmanned Systems Caucus---.” And as fast as a knee jerk its members have since been “showered ---with cash.”

Hawkers “in suits, polo shirts or military garb” from companies like those listed in Appendix D were showing “the hottest new drones, robots and mini blimps.” Well, they weren’t the real thing obviously, just toy replicas.

The author of this story, John Amick, director of Brave New World Foundation’s “War Costs” project, concluded the story with this witty remark, “The toy du jour for this [marriage] is the drone. New technology, same game.” And the game is endless. A trade show for each new toy. The story John told was just his “drone edition.”

Who is getting more screwed than the marriage of drone lovers who never get out of bed? You got it, the taxpayers who are not even in the house, let alone in the bedroom. Truth is indeed stranger and definitely more deadly and costly than fiction

                                        The End of this Sordid True Story